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Kanishka

Cuisine "Native" to the District

66 posts in this topic

There is nothing more uniquely DC than a half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl.  For sure, a different level of sophistication than some of the other recommendations.  Guess it depends on what you can get away with, colleague wise.  It could be a lot of fun.  And definitely, reasonable in price.

WRONG, for many reasons.


Mark

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There is nothing more uniquely DC than a half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl.  For sure, a different level of sophistication than some of the other recommendations.  Guess it depends on what you can get away with, colleague wise.  It could be a lot of fun.  And definitely, reasonable in price.

WRONG, for many reasons.

Yet still right for all the RIGHT reasons.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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This is a question that has often been asked and debated and I think it's essentially the wrong question.
For which I apologize.
...DC shouldn't really be thought of as a distinct spot.  Culinarily-speaking, it's where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Shenadoah Vally and the Great Migration, which makes it mostly the south, with a side of fish.  Ham, soul food, oysters and crabs, anything with the extraordinary fruit that Virginia and Pennsylvania produce....it's a great mix.
So how about a place that say, specializes in Virginia ham, like we have in Pomze, Rouge Tomate, Coco & Co, JGo + Meating which respectively focus on Apples, Tomatoes, Eggs, Lamb and Beef? Not all great but not bad either.

Let me be rephrase -- it was the wrong question in a larger, philosophical sense, not a question that it was wrong of your to ask. DC is just too small and new to have a distinctive cuisine all its own, but if you think of it as part of a larger region, you might be on to something. No need to apologize.

A place that specializes in Virginia ham might be great, but, sadly, I don't know of any. Just for fun, though, you might look into the restaurants that buys pork from Eco-Friendly. . The have a national reputation and their pigs are raise locally, and the Tabard Inn is usually a decent place to eat a meal, and distinctively DC (check out the painting by the hostess stand if you go) though they recently changed chefs and I have heard little.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Along with what Busboy is saying, perhaps the question in not what our local cuisine is, but how and where can you taste the terroir? (I hope I'm using that term correctly). Our local market scene is rife with produce, animal products, herbs etc. There is a growing number of chefs who are focusing their menus on local foods and cooking seasonally with them.

So, although the type of cuisine or manner of cooking can be had in Paris, Parisians can't taste food grown from our soil (VA/MD/PA), cheese and meat from cows, goats, chicken, pigs etc. who feed in our pastures and woods.

I love our markets, so this is what excites me and is what I would want to share about where I live.


Edited by monavano (log)

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Just hanging out and found this, FWIW.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Charles et al;

Great topic.

Altho' in my "normal" life I lived 50 miles away, I never heard the word "half smoke" - that sounds like something both I and my French pals have never had. I think the mission is accomplished. Thanks.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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John, are you aiming to go for lunch or dinner?. How about weekend or weekday? Are you restricted to the District, or are you considering VA, just outside of DC?


Edited by monavano (log)

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As far as procuring half smokes, I've gotten good ones at the Laurel Meat Market on old Main street. I think the brand is Kuntzler, if you buy a case they come in a yellow box with Pennsylvania Dutch style hex signs on it, made in Lancaster PA or thereabouts.

Available in hot or mild!

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John, are you aiming to go for lunch or dinner?. How about weekend or weekday? Are you restricted to the District, or are you considering VA, just outside of DC?

Ah, no, not VA (I have to go there once a month so that's a different issue/topic).

For my French pals in DC, we normally eat lunch, sampling the "local chow" somewhere accessible to the Convention Center (Recall, here inside Paris everything is reachable in less than 40 minutes on our Metro.)

For me and Colette, we eat light, ethnic at night.

For my French colleagues it'll be a weekday lunch; for my charming wife it'll involve lunch and dinner, weekdays and weekends.

I think that's a confusing answer but all suggestions are gratefully received.

John


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I think Vidalia has been doing a good job capturing that mix, in an upscale sort of way (I had truffle on macaroni and cheese last time I was there).

I would agree with Busboy on the cuisine, and note that the chef at Vidalia buys from local producers whenever possible.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Of course, if you go to Ben's, you eat with the stars.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Perhaps the somewhat mythical, oddly unclassifiable "half-smoke".  Everybody claims to have eaten a "real" one, but I'll be damned if I've ever received a good explanation about what separates them from your run-of-the-mill hot dog.

Could someone describe/define a "half-smoke?" Please. This sounds like something my Froggie friends (and I) would really see/eat that's totally new.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Could someone describe/define a "half-smoke?" Please.  This sounds like something my Froggie friends (and I) would really see/eat that's totally new.

Wikipedia, of course, has an article HERE. The half-smoke (which I don't find particularly appealing--I'd rather have a really good natural-casing hot dog) is distinguished from the hot dog by its greater girth and its more coarsely ground meat. It is, in essence, a fat, coarse hot dog, and a dubious recommendation for the city of Washington.

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I went to Laurel Meat market today for the first time in a while and got 4 lbs of Kunzler half smokes (2 hot, 2 mild 5 to a lb.). Good to know the cow's still there: http://krakatoa.blogspot.com/2004/07/laure...stands-for.html

Nice place to shop for good meat at good prices (got beautiful delmonico steaks on sale today for $7.99/lb), very old school, but it reminded me of this recent thread that got into half smokes. Some questions had been posed in the thread about their origin. A quick search turned up this dissertation on half smoke history from the City Paper. Forgive me if it's linked earlier in the thread: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=561

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There is nothing more uniquely DC than a half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl.  For sure, a different level of sophistication than some of the other recommendations.  Guess it depends on what you can get away with, colleague wise.  It could be a lot of fun.  And definitely, reasonable in price.

Well, we took the collective advice and went to Ben's for the only “traditional DC food” apparently - the Chili Half-smoke. Now I understand Charles' comment about the stars because we noted it's the favorite of Bill Cosby, reruns of whose show airs on channel 3 in Paris every AM about 5:30. In any case, we had three of them (I found the dog only so-so) but the chili was good and spicy and the chopped onion superb. One of my colleagues ordered an “..amburger” with fries covered with melted Velveeta cheese that I thought were a throwback to the ‘50’s they were so awful/yet/delicious but the French declared them to be heart-clogging/cholesterol heaven. The bill for four was $40 with tip. Not sure I or we would return but it was surely a few thousand miles from what we'd get in Paris. Thanks all.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Having grown up in the area, I can't think of much besides the Ben's half smoke with chili (great in certain circumstances) and jumbo slice (which is beyond foul even after lots of drinks). The only real thing I haven't seen in other cities I've been to is Salvadoran and Ethiopian food. I think if you made a kitfo pupusa, you'd have a signature DC dish.

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